Is Reiki REALLY Spiritual?
“It is the God-consciousness called Rei that guides the life force called Ki in the practice we call Reiki. Therefore, Reiki can be defined as spiritually guided life force energy." (International Center For Reiki Training).
Adherents will often claim that there is no spiritual element to Reiki, that it is purely natural and that it can be practiced by anyone, irrespective of their religious beliefs. However, far from lacking in any spiritual element, Reiki is essentially spiritual and is deeply-rooted in New Age thought and philosophy. 47.
Its origins seem to be as confused as its core beliefs, with some adherents claiming it to be a "rediscovery" of some older practices while others claim that the founder received the first "attunement" directly from some "higher power" after several (some say 40) days fasting. But before going further into its origins, read what the International Center For Reiki Training, has to say about some of the spiritual aspects:
It is the God-Although consciousness called Rei that guides the life force called Ki in the practice we call Reiki. Therefore, Reiki can be defined as spiritually guided life force energy. This is a meaningful interpretation of the word Reiki. It more closely describes the experience most people have of it; Reiki guiding itself with its own wisdom, and being unresponsive to the direction of the practitioner. Reiki claims to channel a universal energy, or life force, through the practitioner into the one seeking healing, in order to balance and enhance their own "life force.”
Reiki energy is described as spiritual in nature, Reiki does not claim to be a religion and says that practitioners are not asked to change any religious or spiritual beliefs they may already have. In fact, they are free to continue believing anything they choose, or to believe nothing at all. They are encouraged to make their own decisions concerning the nature of their religious practices, yet in order to become a Reiki healer, the "student" has to be "attuned" by a Reiki Master, as if this is some ability that has to be passed from person to person.
Some Christians appear to believe that you can tap into Reiki energies without adhering to its underlying spirituality, but although there are different forms of Reiki, there are not different attunements for people of different religious backgrounds. There is but one attunement, based on esoteric beliefs drawn from Buddhism and Hinduism, that supposedly opens the chakras, to allow various energies connected to them to flow and which allegedly makes any necessary "adjustments" to the student, as deemed necessary by whatever "higher power" Reiki claims to tap into. During attunement and during a healing session, Reiki symbols are drawn in the air, on the body or on paper.
Of Reiki energy, the International Center For Reiki Training says: Reiki energy is a subtle energy. It is different than electricity or chemical energy or other kinds of physical energy. Reiki energy comes from the Higher Power, which exists on a higher dimension than the physical world we are familiar with. When viewed clairvoyantly, Reiki energy appears to come down from above and to enter the top of the practitioners head after which if flows through the body and out the hands. It appears to flow this way because of our perspective. However, the true source of Reiki energy is within ourselves. This does not mean that we use our personal energy when we do Reiki, but that the energy is coming from a transcendental part of ourselves that is connected to an infinite supply of healing energy.
The Reiki attunement is described as a powerful spiritual experience. The attunement energies are channeled into the student through the Reiki Master. The process is guided by the Rei or God-consciousness and adjustments are made in the process, depending on the needs of each student, as perceived by the "higher power."
The attunement is also attended by Reiki guides and other spiritual beings who help implement the process.
Many report having mystical experiences involving personal messages, healings, visions, and past life experiences.
Some claim insight, a new "wisdom" and the ability to know things normally hidden.
Looking again at the origins of Reiki, we discover that the founder either spent time with Buddhists practicing Tantric Yoga or came across and meditated on writings pertaining to it and supposedly received this method of healing following exposure to this form of spirituality. Tantra yoga is an advanced method which, in the ancient East, would not be available to students until after many years of discipline, yet its energy is supposedly available to Reiki students after a couple of "attunements ". It contains within it spells, black magic and necromancy. It is connected to worship of the "supreme" Hindu goddess Shakti and Shakti is the force behind the power that, in this belief, lies "coiled" at the base of the spine, known as Kundalini and which is visualised as a serpent.
During Reiki attunement, it is Kundalini energy which is guided to open the seven chakras.
In Eastern practices, it is acknowledged that Kundalini releases immense and potentially dangerous psychic energy which can induce all manner of neurosis and psychosis, if uncontrolled. Yet as I mentioned, this energy is supposedly available to anyone who goes along for their Reiki "attunements.”
I hope that by now you will have realised that Reiki masters do see this method of healing as being spiritual in nature and that, whatever else may be its claims, it uses the language of New Age. Let's take a look and see whether this spirituality is compatible with Christianity.
Part Three - God By Another Name?
Someone once said, "Surely this is the same God you worship, but by another name." Far from it! If someone mentions the name of someone you love, not only is an image of that person conjured in your mind, but everything you know about them is wrapped up in their name. For example, if someone says my husband's name, all my experiences of him are contained in that simple sound, to create a sense of warmth and love and memories of shared experiences.
Yet I know that not everyone who has the same name is also my husband. They simply do not have his nature. Likewise with God. As a Christian, I have a distinct experience of God, as far as I am able and a distinct view of Him, as revealed in Jesus Christ. Others may call themselves, or be called, "god" but they do not have His nature and are clearly not Him.
In the Monotheistic understanding of God, we are created for His glory and not the other way round. We may grapple with human imagery to describe Him, we may have to look to Creation to see some of His incredible beauty, we may barely be able to perceive Him, so far above us is His Nature, but we are also aware that we are created by Him and for Him and that we are created in His image and likeness through the power of the Holy Spirit. All of Creation directs us to Him. Everything that is good reveals something of Him. There is nothing in Creation that is not intended to give glory to God. In trying to describe God, the Catholic Catechism tells us: 48.
40 Since our knowledge of God is limited, our language about him is equally so. We can name God only by taking creatures as our starting point, and in accordance with our limited human ways of knowing and thinking.
41 All creatures bear a certain resemblance to God, most especially man, created in the image and likeness of God.
The manifold perfections of creatures - their truth, their goodness, their beauty all reflect the infinite perfection of God. Consequently we can name God by taking his creatures" perfections as our starting point, "for from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator".15
42 God transcends all creatures. We must therefore continually purify our language of everything in it that is limited, image-bound or imperfect, if we are not to confuse our image of God-"the inexpressible, the incomprehensible, the in-visible, the ungraspable"-with our human representations.16 Our human words always fall short of the mystery of God.
43 Admittedly, in speaking about God like this, our language is using human modes of expression; nevertheless it really does attain to God himself, though unable to express him in his infinite simplicity. Likewise, we must recall that "between Creator and creature no similitude can be expressed without implying an even greater dissimilitude";17 and that "concerning God, we cannot grasp what he is, but only what he is not, and how other beings stand in relation to him."18
Yet we also learn that God has not chosen to remain aloof or impersonal, but has gradually revealed Himself to us as Our Father, a deeply personal God, concerned with every little detail of our lives from the very moment of our conception. As Mankind grapples with this revelation in history, God reveals His Name and His loving concern for His people. He is not an energy- force, a power to be tapped into but is a distinct Person who invites us to draw closer to Him, to come to know Him as personally and deeply as we are able and to worship and to serve Him as we are designed and created to do. We are created in God's image, but we are not God and can neither "tap into" nor direct God.
Our life comes through the power of the Holy Spirit, part of the Godhead, a separate and distinct Person and yet One with the Father. Again, not an impersonal life-force to be called, commanded, channelled, used or manipulated for our personal benefit but the very Spirit of God who blows where He will. He animates us. It is from Him that we draw our very life.
We have rejected this life through our disobedience and the world suffers the consequences. Every part of Creation is affected by our sin. Mankind walked away from God and His precepts to follow his own way and has suffered the results of that first sin, that first turning away from God in pursuit of knowledge and life outside of Him.
Sin has multiplied through each generation, but although we have been unfaithful, God has sought always to restore us to Himself and has renewed His Covenant with us time and again, keeping His word even while we broke ours. But full restoration could come not through anything we could do or deserve. Instead, it had to come, as has everything, through God's initiative, in the Person of Jesus Christ.
Jesus, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of a Virgin, is the Son of the Most High in the most perfect sense. In Him, heaven and earth are reconciled. He is the Word of God who has existed for all eternity, was sinless yet offered Himself to die for our sins. He was crucified, died, was buried, rose from the dead and ascended to His Father, taking perfect humanity to the Throne Of Grace. Then, as if that were not enough, He sent the Holy Spirit in a "new" way, animating us with the very life of Christ, transforming us to be more and more like Jesus even as we remain fully ourselves. In short, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three distinct Persons and yet are so fully One God. The Holy Spirit testifies to Jesus, always directs us to Jesus. Jesus Christ lifts us up to the Father, always gives glory to the Father. It is not possible for any Person of the Holy Trinity to deny another Person of the Holy Trinity.
QUESTIONS TO CONTRAST NEW AGE AND CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY
(Taken from "Jesus Christ, The Bearer Of The Water Of Life")
Is God a being with whom we have a relationship or something to be used or a force to be harnessed?
(NEW AGE) The New Age concept of God is rather diffuse, whereas the Christian concept is a very clear one. The New Age god is an impersonal energy, really a particular extension or component of the cosmos; god in this sense is the life-force or soul of the world. Divinity is to be found in every being, in a gradation “from the lowest crystal of the mineral world up to and beyond the Galactic God himself, about Whom we can say nothing at all. This is not a man but a Great Consciousness”. In some “classic” New Age writings, it is clear that human beings are meant to think of themselves as gods: this is more fully developed in some people than in others. God is no longer to be sought beyond the world, but deep within myself. Even when “God” is something outside myself, it is there to be manipulated.
(CHRISTIAN) This is very different from the Christian understanding of God as the maker of heaven and earth and the source of all personal life. God is in himself personal, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who created the universe in order to share the communion of his life with creaturely persons. “God, who 'dwells in unapproachable light', wants to communicate his own divine life to the men he freely created, in order to adopt them as his sons in his only-begotten Son. By revealing himself God wishes to make them capable of responding to him, and of knowing him, and of loving him far beyond their own natural capacity”. God is not identified with the Life-principle understood as the “Spirit” or “basic energy” of the cosmos, but is that love which is absolutely different from the world, and yet creatively present in everything, and leading human beings to salvation.
Is there just one Jesus Christ, or are there thousands of Christs?
(NEW AGE) Jesus Christ is often presented in New Age literature as one among many wise men, or initiates, or avatars, whereas in Christian tradition He is the Son of God. Here are some common points in New Age approaches:
– the personal and individual historical Jesus is distinct from the eternal, impersonal universal Christ;
– Jesus is not considered to be the only Christ;
– the death of Jesus on the cross is either denied or re-interpreted to exclude the idea that He, as Christ, could have suffered;
– extra-biblical documents (like the neo-gnostic gospels) are considered authentic sources for the knowledge of aspects of the life of Jesus which are not to be found in the canon of Scripture. Other revelations about Jesus, made available by entities, spirit guides and ascended masters, or even through the Akasha Chronicles, are basic for New Age christology;
– a kind of esoteric exegesis is applied to biblical texts to purify Christianity of the formal religion which inhibits access to its esoteric essence.
(CHRISTIAN) In the Christian Tradition Jesus Christ is the Jesus of Nazareth about which the gospels speak, the son of Mary and the only Son of God, true man and true God, the full revelation of divine truth, unique Saviour of the world: “for our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died and was buried. On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father”.
The human being: is there one universal being or are there many individuals?
(NEW AGE) “The point of New Age techniques is to reproduce mystical states at will, as if it were a matter of laboratory material. Rebirth, biofeedback, sensory isolation, holotropic breathing, hypnosis, mantras, fasting, sleep deprivation and transcendental meditation are attempts to control these states and to experience them continuously”. These practices all create an atmosphere of psychic weakness (and vulnerability). When the object of the exercise is that we should re-invent our selves, there is a real question of who “I” am. “God within us” and holistic union with the whole cosmos underline this question. Isolated individual personalities would be pathological in terms of New Age (in particular transpersonal psychology). But “the real danger is the holistic paradigm. New Age is thinking based on totalitarian unity and that is why it is a danger...”. More moderately: “We are authentic when we 'take charge of' ourselves, when our choice and reactions flow spontaneously from our deepest needs, when our behaviour and expressed feelings reflect our personal wholeness”. The Human Potential Movement is the clearest example of the conviction that humans are divine, or contain a divine spark within themselves.
(CHRISTIAN) The Christian approach grows out of the Scriptural teachings about human nature; men and women are created in God's image and likeness (Gen 1.27) and God takes great consideration of them, much to the relieved surprise of the Psalmist (cf. Ps 8). The human person is a mystery fully revealed only in Jesus Christ (cf. GS 22),and in fact becomes authentically human properly in his relationship with Christ through the gift of the Spirit. This is far from the caricature of anthropocentrism ascribed to Christianity and rejected by many New Age authors and practitioners.
Do we save ourselves or is salvation a free gift from God?
(NEW AGE) The key is to discover by what or by whom we believe we are saved. Do we save ourselves by our own actions, as is often the case in New Age explanations, or are we saved by God's love? Key words are self-fulfilment and self-realisation, self-redemption. New Age is essentially Pelagian in its understanding of about human nature.
(CHRISTIAN) For Christians, salvation depends on a participation in the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, and on a direct personal relationship with God rather than on any technique. The human situation, affected as it is by original sin and by personal sin, can only be rectified by God's action: sin is an offense against God, and only God can reconcile us to himself. In the divine plan of salvation, human beings have been saved by Jesus Christ who, as God and man, is the one mediator of redemption.
In Christianity salvation is not an experience of self, a meditative and intuitive dwelling within oneself, but much more the forgiveness of sin, being lifted out of profound ambivalences in oneself and the calming of nature by the gift of communion with a loving God. The way to salvation is not found simply in a self-induced transformation of consciousness, but in a liberation from sin and its consequences which then leads us to struggle against sin in ourselves and in the society around us. It necessarily moves us toward loving solidarity with our neighbour in need.
Do we invent truth or do we embrace it?
(NEW AGE) New Age truth is about good vibrations, cosmic correspondences, harmony and ecstasy, in general pleasant experiences. It is a matter of finding one's own truth in accordance with the feel- good factor. Evaluating religion and ethical questions is obviously relative to one's own feelings and experiences.
(CHRISTIAN) Jesus Christ is presented in Christian teaching as “The Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14.6). His followers are asked to open their whole lives to him and to his values, in other words to an objective set of requirements which are part of an objective reality ultimately knowable by all.
Prayer and meditation: are we talking to ourselves or to God?
The tendency to confuse psychology and spirituality makes it hard not to insist that many of the meditation techniques now used are not prayer. They are often a good preparation for prayer, but no more, even if they lead to a more pleasant state of mind or bodily comfort. The experiences involved are genuinely intense, but to remain at this level is to remain alone, not yet in the presence of the other. The achievement of silence can confront us with emptiness, rather than the silence of contemplating the beloved. It is also true that techniques for going deeper into one's own soul are ultimately an appeal to one's own ability to reach the divine, or even to become divine: if they forget God's search for the human heart they are still not Christian prayer. Even when it is seen as a link with the Universal Energy, “such an easy 'relationship' with God, where God's function is seen as supplying all our needs, shows the selfishness at the heart of this New Age”.
New Age practices are not really prayer, in that they are generally a question of introspection or fusion with cosmic energy, as opposed to the double orientation of Christian prayer, which involves introspection but is essentially also a meeting with God. Far from being a merely human effort, Christian mysticism is essentially a dialogue which “implies an attitude of conversion, a flight from 'self' to the 'you' of God”. 50.
“The Christian, even when he is alone and prays in secret, he is conscious that he always prays for the good of the Church in union with Christ, in the Holy Spirit and together with all the saints”.
Are we tempted to deny sin or do we accept that there is such a thing?
(NEW AGE) In New Age there is no real concept of sin, but rather one of imperfect knowledge; what is needed is enlightenment, which can be reached through particular psycho-physical techniques. Those who take part in New Age activities will not be told what to believe, what to do or what not to do, but: “There are a thousand ways of exploring inner reality. Go where your intelligence and intuition lead you. Trust yourself”. Authority has shifted from a theistic location to within the self. The most serious problem perceived in New Age thinking is alienation from the whole cosmos, rather than personal failure or sin. The remedy is to become more and more immersed in the whole of being. In some New Age writings and practices, it is clear that one life is not enough, so there have to be reincarnations to allow people to realise their full potential.
(CHRISTIAN) In the Christian perspective “only the light of divine Revelation clarifies the reality of sin and particularly of the sin committed at mankind's origins. Without the knowledge Revelation gives of God we cannot recognize sin clearly and are tempted to explain it as merely a development flaw, a psychological weakness, a mistake, or the necessary consequence of an inadequate social structure, etc. Only in the knowledge of God's plan for man can we grasp that sin is an abuse of freedom that God gives to created persons so that they are capable of loving him and loving one another”. Sin is an offense against reason, truth and right conscience; it is a failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity...Sin is an offense against God... sin sets itself against God's love for us and turns our hearts away from it... Sin is thus 'love of oneself even to contempt of God'”.
Are we encouraged to reject or accept suffering and death?
(CHRISTIAN) Some New Age writers view suffering as self-imposed, or as bad karma, or at least as a failure to harness one's own resources. Others concentrate on methods of achieving success and wealth (e.g. Deepak Chopra, José Silva et al.). In New Age, reincarnation is often seen as a necessary element in spiritual growth, a stage in progressive spiritual evolution which began before we were born and will continue after we die. In our present lives the experience of the death of other people provokes a healthy crisis.
Both cosmic unity and reincarnation are irreconcilable with the Christian belief that a human person is a distinct being, who lives one life, for which he or she is fully responsible: this understanding of the person puts into question both responsibility and freedom. Christians know that “in the cross of Christ not only is the redemption accomplished through suffering, but also human suffering itself has been redeemed. Christ – without any fault of his own – took on himself 'the total evil of sin'. The experience of this evil determined the incomparable extent of Christ's suffering, which became the price of the redemption... The Redeemer suffered in place of man and for man. Every man has his own share in the redemption. Each one is also called to share in that suffering through which the redemption was accomplished. He is called to share in that suffering through which all human suffering has also been redeemed. In bringing about the redemption through suffering, Christ has also raised human suffering to the level of the redemption. Thus each man in his suffering can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ”.
Is social commitment something shirked or positively sought after?
(NEW AGE) Much in New Age is unashamedly self-promotion, but some leading figures in the movement claim that it is unfair to judge the whole movement by a minority of selfish, irrational and narcissistic people, or to allow oneself to be dazzled by some of their more bizarre practices, which are a block to seeing in New Age a genuine spiritual search and spirituality. The fusion of individuals into the cosmic self, the relativisation or abolition of difference and opposition in a cosmic harmony, is unacceptable to Christianity.
(CHRISTIAN) Where there is true love, there has to be a different other (person). A genuine Christian searches for unity in the capacity and freedom of the other to say “yes” or “no” to the gift of love. Union is seen in Christianity as communion, unity as community.
Is our future in the stars or do we help to construct it?
(NEW AGE) The New Age which is dawning will be peopled by perfect, androgynous beings who are totally in command of the cosmic laws of nature. In this scenario, Christianity has to be eliminated and give way to a global religion and a new world order.
(CHRISTIAN) Christians are in a constant state of vigilance, ready for the last days when Christ will come again; their New Age began 2000 years ago, with Christ, who is none other than “Jesus of Nazareth; he is the Word of God made man for the salvation of all”. His Holy Spirit is present and active in the hearts of individuals, in “society and history, peoples, cultures and religions”. In fact, “the Spirit of the Father, bestowed abundantly by the Son, is the animator of all”. We live in the last times.
THE FIRST COMMANDMENT
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them. It is written: "You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”
Based as Reiki is on New Age spirituality, which denies the basic tenets of Christianity then it is not possible to embrace both. “No servant can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn” (Luke 16.13) 51.
As much as New Age adherents may state that they don't mind what you believe, they draw heavily on Eastern spirituality, which they take piecemeal as it suits them, create a pseudo-mystical experience, promote occultic and psychic practices forbidden in the Bible and contradict teachings the Church has handed down to us from the beginning concerning God and the nature of Jesus Christ as His only Son. They promote pantheism, gnosticism and embrace almost every heresy dreamed of since Christ walked the earth. You can deny Christ's divinity, even deny the existence of God Himself and they do not mind. For all their words of love and tolerance, there is one faith they wish to see rendered ineffective, and that is Christianity. Bearing all this in mind, I fail to see how any Christian can, in good conscience, embrace or practice any form of healing or embrace any form of spirituality connected with New Age. They will find themselves as a house divided against itself and might even find themselves unwittingly fighting against Christianity and thus against Jesus Christ.
As Christians, we know that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are One and since we know with absolute certainty that none of the Three Persons of the Godhead can deny either of the others, we know that the spirit to which Reiki refers cannot be the Holy Spirit. We then have to ask ourselves whether it might just be another "snake oil" or whether it does indeed call on some form of psychic or supernatural power, as it claims. And if it does utilises supernatural forces, we have to ask ourselves what sort of spirit it is that would deny God as Creator, deny Jesus as His Only Son and deny the Holy Spirit or, at best, relegate Him to the place of some sort of impersonal cosmic life-force.